Trail Test - Trek Superfly 100 AL Pro
The downtube on the Superfly reads ‘Trek’, but the Superfly is the child of mountain bike father figure Gary Fisher. Look further at the decals and you’ll find a ‘Gary Fisher Collection’ on there too. The free spirited Californian pioneer and the vanilla safe Wisconsin bike maker form a fearsome blend of innovation and experimentation combined with mass market R&D and purchasing budgets.
The vital stats on the Superfly 100 are pretty commonplace stuff; alloy frame, 110mm of travel at the back and 100mm up front supported by Fox dampers, and Shimano XT drivetrain and brakes. It’s all durable, functional and offers fantastic trail performance and the price isn’t astronomical. This is the sort of bike that dealers pit brand-against-brand on a daily basis, so to be successful Trek needs to add their own special flavour to the equation.
Way back in the day before long-travel trail bikes Gary Fisher came up with one of his best known design concepts; called ‘Genesis Geometry’ it paired a long top tube with a short stem (for the period). This gave the bikes the right cockpit length, a long front centre for descending stability and the short stem kept handling snappy. Fast forward to the present day and this set-up is only just becoming the norm in new-school trail bike design. Mr Fisher is a great thinker and was well ahead of his time with the original Genesis Geometry—not to mention 29-inch wheels, oversized headsets, dual suspension trail bikes with disc brakes and so on…
The Superfly 100 makes use of Fisher’s G2 (Genesis 2) geometry, which uses a fork with more offset to reduce the axle trail. Developed specifically for their 29-inch wheeled bikes it aims to produce responsive steering, without resorting to the use of a particularly steep head angle. Steep head angles are all well and good but they can make you feel like you’re too far over the front during steep descents and lead to a sketchy ride.
With all of Gary’s handling tricks aboard it’s time for Trek to add their goodies to the Superfly basket in the form of the Active Braking Pivot (ABP). This is a Trek developed suspension system that is used on all of their duallies. The ABP design does not pivot on the seat stay or the chainstay but instead pivots around the rear axle, and as the name suggests, it aims to keep the suspension active and neutral when the anchors are on.
The ABP system also adds a small degree of complexity, as the pivot bearing has to allow the wheel axle to pass through its centre (on most bikes the suspension pivot is completely separate from the wheel axle). Trek uses large bearings and some specially made nuts and axles to pull off the ABP system, and in practice the only drawback is that the derailleur hanger is integrated with one of the pivot axles. This means trailside replacement requires an open-ended spanner—I don’t know what multi-tool you ride with, but this spanner is not on it, trust me!